Children have always found pinecones fascinating; from their shape and tactile nature, to the way they close up in the rain to protect their seeds. My own children never fail to come away from any visit to the woods with their pockets bursting with them. For teaching purposes, I find them to be a surprisingly versatile resource. From making them into various characters or decorations, to using them for literacy games or story props. My favourite use for them is tucking little notes in between the scales. These could be clues for a treasure hunt, letters for a spelling game, messages from an imaginary visitor, wishes…the only limit is your imagination.
Yesterday was my final day of a six week project with a group of inspirational Y3 children. It is tradition that on our last day we build a fire, and yesterday was no exception. On the way into the woods, I asked the children to each collect a pinecone. They didn’t need much encouragement for this, and after collection, eagerly piled them up in a little heap by the fire circle, ready to be used at the end of the session.
During our reflection time, they each wrote a wish on a small piece of paper and tucked it in between the scales of their pinecone. Following this, in pairs, they came up with a spell. There were no rules for these spells, and they varied from a simple couple of lines, to rhyming couplets. This was one of my favourites:
“Wild wood can you see
The special wish to you from me
Whispering wood please grant my wish
And put it in my empty dish.”
When the children were ready, they knelt in their pairs by the fire, and whilst saying their spell, threw in the pinecones, watching their wishes billow in smoke towards the sky.